By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton’s bus stops across the may be in the proper locations for able-bodied passengers but, says Terri Wallis, of the city’s Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, they are almost useless for people with accessibility devises, or who are blind.
In a review of bus stops throughout the city, from downtown Hamilton, to Rymal Road, and the Meadowlands, Wallis said the majority of them failed to allow disabled people from entering and existing buses, or provided an unsafe location to wait for a bus.
Wallis, who uses a wheelchair, pointed out a bus stop at the Meadowlands, is located near a steep grassy decline that drops dangerously into a storm water pond.
“It’s incredibly dangerous,” she said. “There’s not enough room.”
She said there are also more bus stops that are separated from the curb with grass, which prevents people with accessible devises from easily crossing the area into a bus.
“You try to cross the grass, you stop dead, but you go forward,” she said.
There are other locations along Stone Church Road, at Chedoke Arena, and at McMaster Children’s Hospital where the bus ramps are unable to reach the curb.
Other problems Wallis identified included bus stops that are crowded with benches and other items, such as at King and Queen streets preventing people from navigating from a bus, and the lack of snow removal making it impossible for disabled people to exit or enter buses at stops.
Along Rymal Road, for instance, which is still a rural road, there are no curbs, and there are ditches nearby creating unsafe areas, she said.
Even the recently completed MacNab Street Transit Terminal, the emergency call button is located too high for people who want to use it, she said.
“It’s absolutely useless for people who need it the most,” she said.
Wallis’ presentation prompted councillors to encourage city staff to make any improvements to bus stops immediately if possible.
“It’s called common sense,” said Mountain councillor Scott Duvall. “And (the audit) shows we didn’t have that.”
Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead was cautious about “spending good money after bad” to improve bus stops along a rural road such as Rymal, when it will eventually be urbanized.
Even though such roads as Rymal Road, Upper Sherman, and Upper Wellington, which are still rural, Don Hull, transit director, said the city can make temporary improvements at bus stops until the roads are urbanized.
“We have an obligation to take the advice of ACPD,” said Hull. “Some of it can be done, some of it will be more complicated.”
He said the transit department will also review the ACPD’s audit and see if they can quickly fix problem areas. For more complicated projects, Hull said council will need to approve any funding needs.
“We can fix the obvious ones now,” he said.
Hullalso agreed to conduct an updated accessibility audit of the city’s bus stops, which could be completed by the end of the year.